Breast Cancer: Touch Your Self

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. It is considered a heterogeneous disease—differing by individual, age group, and even the kinds of cells within the tumors themselves. Obviously no woman wants to receive this diagnosis, but hearing the words “breast cancer” doesn’t always mean an end. It can be the beginning of learning how to fight, getting the facts, and finding hope.

Women around the world get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer except for skin cancer. It is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in women.

Each year it is estimated that nearly 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. Approximately 1,700 men will also be diagnosed with breast cancer and 450 will die each year. The evaluation of men with breast masses is similar to that in women, including mammography.

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Generally, early breast cancer does not cause pain. Even so, a woman should see her health care provider about breast pain or any other breast cancer symptoms that do not go away.

 Breast Cancer Signs & SYMPTOMS

 Common signs & symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels you may experience nipple tenderness or notice a lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
  • A change in how the breast or nipple looks this could mean a change in the size or shape of the breast or a nipple that is turned slightly inward. In addition, the skin of the breast, areola or nipple may appear scaly, red or swollen or may have ridges or pitting that resembles the skin of an orange.
  • Nipple discharge.

Early Detection Plan: You can take control of your healthcare by developing an early detection plan and encouraging others to do the same. Remember—early detection saves lives!

EARLY DETECTION PLAN

An Early Breast Cancer Detection Plan should include:

Beginning at age 20: Performing breast self-exams and looking for any signs of change.

Breast Self-Exam (BSE)

Taking a few minutes to do a breast self-exam a minimum of once a month can make a lifetime of difference. Nearly 70% of all breast cancers are found through self-exams and with early detection the 5-year survival rate is 98%. If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic—8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns.

HOW TO DO A BREAST SELF-EXAM

In the Shower

Fingers flat move gently over every part of each breast. Use your right hand to examine the left breast, left hand for the right breast. Check for any lump, hard knot, or thickening. Carefully observe any changes in your breasts.

Before a Mirror

Inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes in the contour of each breast, a swelling, a dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Then rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do. Inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.

Look for any changes in the contour of each breast, a swelling, a dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Then rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do.

Lying Down

Place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right arm behind your head. With the fingers of your left hand flat, press your right breast gently in small circular motions, moving vertically or in a circular pattern covering the entire breast.

Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.

 Age 20 to 39: Scheduling clinical breast exams every three years.

By the age of 40: Having a baseline mammogram and annual clinical breast exams.

Ages 40 to 49: Having a mammogram every one to two years depending on previous findings.

Ages 50 and older: Having a mammogram every year.

All Ages:

— Recording personal exams, mammograms and doctors’ appointments on a calendar or in a detailed file.

— Maintaining a healthy weight, following a low-fat diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption.

Sakina Foundation Trust Support Touch Your Self Campaign.

Sakina Foundation Trust is here to help local patients who are being treated for breast cancer to stay on a path toward emotional wellness and healing. We aspire to provide the support tools they need to find a comfortable balance between life and treatment – to lend a hand, to educate, to ease their discomfort, and to help them to find strength and encouragement as they begin to embrace their new normal.